(a cycle of six sestinas)
Roy Herndon Smith
something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue
We gather together in waving wild fields–
forgotten, fattening, old Father Big Bang;
promiscuous, pregnant, new Mother Presence;
twinning quarks singing duets; you and I dance,
following, not following, borrowed patterns
under this blue sky that will not come again.
I jitter, think, it’s waving over again–
chaotic mowing of forgotten old fields;
that you and I, so new, are just set patterns
flashing together and finished in a bang;
that I, with my borrowed words, my well-worn dance,
will lose you; and the blues will crash over presence.
We suffer jittering absence in presence–
old mourning waving, breaking over again
on new-drawn figures of the ritual dance,
the distances in duets defining fields
of loss; borrowing desire from The Big Bang,
we ache the blues, cry out, go still, in patterns
of tunes we jitterbug to between patterns
at the ends of the old tunnel of presence;
the sax player plays the new before the bang
of memory strikes again; we know again
they are not trains or planes, but sun-borrowed fields
of light under blue, blue skies, where still we dance
and fall to the ground, close and part, stand and dance,
tripping the old steps, slipping the old patterns
into new, entwining, unraveling, fields
of resonating quarks, bodies; your presence
borrowing the broken universe again
to break me open again, in a blue bang
of stillness cleaving sorrow; we meet–touch—bang!–
joy flashing, flooding, flowing through the old dance;
a first kiss, a new kiss, then we kiss again;
eyes, fingers, hair, lips lingering in patterns
borrowed from past loves, binding, in our presence,
boundless blue absences to waving wild fields.
You and I resound like paired quarks, bang patterns
of love in the dance of passionate presence,
and wed again in endlessly greening fields.
Before, you polish your mother’s jewel box;
shameless old memories fly out; the stillness
shimmers in new touches, before it opens
the world to serenity, before it wraps
the world up in borrowed silk, before it tears
the blue heaven apart in a flash of white.
After, you wonder, dazed, at a world gone to white;
once you knew this old friend who hands you a box
and says, “Your turn”; something new in his voice tears
through you as his hand brushes yours, the stillness
banishing the borrowed familiar; the wraps
fall off the blue package that cracks and opens
to reveal some ticky-tacky that opens
the two of you to the old song; and the white
lace of memory, newly worn and torn, wraps
the two of you in laughter; you know the box,
borrowed from your mother, was full of stillness
that settles around you as the blue moon tears
across the indigo night, as passion tears
old mourning to tatters, as morning opens
on you lolling in angled new light; stillness
of his warm body, lying tangled in white,
fills the borrowed room; you fall into the box,
the familiar old blues shiver, the riff wraps
the world in reverberate silences, wraps
the world in reverberate old pleasures, tears
through the new rhythms, tears into the new box,
containing, releasing; the new box opens
you, the borrowed old box contains you, the white
new box releases you, white, to blue stillness
filled with words, filled with birds, flitting in stillness,
crying in stillness the old, old cry that wraps
the world in old sorrow, in new joy, in white
searing joy cleaving sorrow, the cry that tears
the worn and borrowed world apart, that opens
you, holds you, that spills you out of the blue box.
Now, in the stillness, you speak the word that tears
apart, before it wraps, before it opens
the plain white, smooth white, pure white, perfect white, box.
Before, she calls me “wordsmith,” but I make cracks,
as does she, like “bottoms up,” old absences;
everyone’s a new double space typed between
our lips–a two-cracks, two-bottoms, smart-ass kiss;
borrowed words make us silly, biased nothings,
who make much ado about the blue in love.
After, I know we are always making love;
she, old-fashioned, gives what she holds back; wisecracks
cleave words, lips, hands into silly new nothings
that crack me up, bind me to her; absences
make our hearts in borrowing beats when we kiss;
the movie’s blue, no matter what’s kept between
our bodies—weeks, layers, words, stillness; between
making, being in, lost old, and found new, love,
all’s nude; as in thirties movies, a new kiss
or a few loose words strip us down to our cracks;
borrowed comprehensions become absences,
whirling us into the blue, with the nothings
that, on the edge, like palms, sway with the nothings,
like old considerations, breathing between
bodies, our new words caressing absences;
we’re not making understandings here, but love,
which we borrow from each other in the cracks
between our lips–the chaste white, stolen blue, kiss
lingering; we can breathe, can live, in this kiss,
whisper old words that dissolve into nothings;
flicking tongues line soft edges of the new cracks
that open until we almost fall between,
before we borrow tender restraint and love
without touch or reason in blue absences . . .
I am lost in her, embracing absences,
our breathing comfortable–a long, old kiss
holding loss and new-fangled touches in love;
we lie under the palm, under the nothings;
borrowing their cries from distances between
blue nights and bronze days, we sing within the cracks.
Now, you are she; and absences are nothings
but presents waiting for words, a kiss between,
to speak, read, and free the love made in the cracks.
(She) I’ve got the willies. I’m being silly.
The old willies. I don’t know what’s going down.
(He) All’s new and groundless and I’m in trouble,
like Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff.
(She) You don’t know? I thought I’d borrow the ground
from you. You mean we’re in the blue? We’re falling?
(He) The ground’s gone. Air’s all around. Light’s falling
on your hair falling down. It’s an old silly
(She) fairy tale. But this is new—no known ground
to climb up or to stand on. We’re falling down
(He) a borrowed tangential, right off the cliff,
way beyond the blue horizon. The trouble
(She) with language is thinking it’s no trouble,
nice old words lying at our feet and falling
(He) asleep, chasing a new dream off a cliff–
don’t worry, be happy, everything’s silly,
(She) wordy borrowing. What’s drifting down?
What is this blue? Sorrow? The air? The far ground?
(He) Words are going wild, tearing up the ground,
tickling up old storms of laughter or trouble.
(She) What’s new is eternally both—up, down,
loving, mourning, lost and found, soaring, falling,
(He) borrowing the willies, being silly.
A kiss is never just a kiss–a blue cliff
(She) curling and crashing, high and down–a cliff,
a kiss, the old ocean tang of you, the ground
(He) we, falling, make anew. Kiss me silly,
throw me down, on the ground, and be my trouble.
(She) Borrowing selves from each other, falling
into the far blue–this is what’s going down.
(He) Being the far blue is what’s going down,
being memory, the old sea, and the cliff,
(She) always newly unknown, always falling
away, pulling us, cascading to a ground,
(He) like a borrowed bed; we think it’s trouble,
until we’re lying in it, blue and silly.
(She) Love is falling down, is being your ground,
(He) your cliff, your fall, your comfort in trouble,
(She) falling together … We’re being silly.
No idea, no thing, no mind, no matter–
nothing’s an old thing-in-itself; all’s mourning,
memory making a new reality,
bringing absence into the present moment,
imagination borrowing what is lost
to make what is into the blues, into you.
Stillness encompassing all, the air’s all you,
not august and old, just the mundane matter
of all making what is new from what is lost,
you breathing into, out of, all, you mourning,
borrowing the past to make the mute moment,
the continual blue of reality,
flowing in and flowing out, reality,
in the old beat, taking it all, taking you,
throwing all, throwing you, in this new moment,
in and out, all and you, no mind, no matter,
except what loving, borrowing from mourning,
makes, the blue atmosphere you make. I am lost
in the stillness, the atmosphere, of you–lost,
lying on grassy old earth, reality
turning anew under us, turning mourning
into loving, this sunny August day. You,
borrowing gravity to make us matter,
bind blue sky to grassy ground in this moment.
You lie on me, kiss me into this moment,
into the old ground, the new sky. I am lost
in you, in old ground, new sky, in the matter
of our breathing together, reality
borrowing existence from the weight of you,
loving borrowing blue depths from your mourning.
Later, it’s dark; we learn with Lear that mourning,
an old man’s mourning, born in death, the moment
of new death, empties the mind of all but “you,”
beloved “you.” Old Lear dies. But all that’s lost
borrows life from memory, reality
from blue imagining, turns love to matter;
the play goes on, mourning transforms what’s lost
in this moment to loving reality,
you holding me holding you make it matter.
Jittering. Chopped up thinking. Broken lines. Not
this. Not that. Old Jimmying Fixit with the
new agenda. If I can just pry the words
right, the absences will stay nicely cooped up.
Here’s a coop (borrowed, mind you. Gotta get that
in). Where to put the blue? Here. There. Everywhere.
The chickens are coming home. They’re everywhere.
Squabbling. Squawk! Old alliteration holds. Not.
Assonance, The new sonar salvation! That
is so asinine. But repetition’s the
borrowed coop that frees. But fixing locks it up
again and … Words, words, words, I’m so blue with words.
Jittering begets jittering. Blaming words
or any old goat begets kids everywhere.
New bitterness, new pettiness, popping up
like moles, and whacking’s definitively not
any solution. Borrowing now, but the
thing with borrowing that brings on the blues, that
begets us jittering again, again, that
is like nasal baas of old goats, nosey words,
is that the borrowed thing’s not new. It’s not the
same. It’s jittering. That’s what’s new, everywhere.
Borrowing baas are the nots between what’s not
here and what is that leave us in the blue, up
in vast absence, shivering, jittering up
that old bug, that snotty infectious not, that
death living in what’s here and new. Now that’s not
quite what we thought we wanted. Jittering words
are never just are. Borrowing’s everywhere.
We might as well jitterbug to the blues. The
fact is twinning quarks are doing it all the
time. And old Big Bang is still getting it up
with promiscuous new Presence everywhere.
That old negative capability that
is all the borrowed new rage does it with words.
Reality’s jitterbugging the blue not
jittering between us, the waving wild that
weds us again, that makes us up in these words
and throws us together everywhere we’re not.